Read the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' books: 'Game of Thrones' fan New Year's resolution

game-of-thrones-george-rr-martin-gi.jpg

Die-hard "Game of Thrones" fans are likely counting down the seconds until Season 4 premieres on HBO in the spring. Following the slaughter of the Red Wedding and the drama playing out at the Wall, there are a lot of storylines that we're desperate to revisit and see resolved.

But if you consider yourself a true "Game of Thrones" fan and find yourself dying to know what's coming next, the solution is much simpler than speculating until Season 4: Just read the books. 

At this point, where TV show spoilers abound on the Internet and you can read books in an array of easily accessible formats, there really is no reason as a fan not to take the plunge into the "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels. So here's our New Year's resolution challenge to those of you who have not yet started the books that "Game of Thrones" is based on yet: Start them by the time Season 4 premieres.

George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" saga is some of the best fantasy fiction of the past few decades, but part of what makes them so accessible is the fact that they aren't just for lovers of the fantasy genre. Like the TV show, these books do such a great job developing the characters in a grounded reality so that the reader doesn't even blink by the time dragons and resurrection and face-changing assassins are revealed.

Bottom line: If you don't like fantasy books but you do like "Game of Thrones," there's a pretty big chance you'll still end up loving the book series as much -- if not more than -- the TV show. These books are long and daunting, yes, but they're also well-written and engaging. And there's a lot to be gained from reading the books even though we're already three seasons into the series.

game-of-thrones-book-cover.jpg

One of the best things about the "Game of Thrones" TV series and the books it's based on is how wonderfully they complement one another. While many other adaptations often tread the same subjects and storylines on both the page and the screen, consuming both the "Game of Thrones" novels and series provides a richer experience for fans.

Considering how big the world of "A Song of Ice and Fire" is, there's understandably a lot of content that can't be condensed for each 10-hour TV season. There are a lot of important storylines that have been left out of the show that took place before "Game of Thrones" began, and they are some of the most interesting mysteries in the novel series. Among them are the truth of Jon Snow's parentage, the significance of the Tourney at Harrenhaal and the backstory of the White Walkers and Children of the Forest.

At some point, the show will have to deal with these storylines (or at least, we assume they will). But a fun aspect of the "Game of Thrones" phenomenon is being able to speculate with fellow fans about these aspects of the larger "A Song of Ice and Fire" story. There's a richer world out there than fans of the TV series realize, and it's one that's a whole lot of fun.

Similarly, fans who have read the books and not seen the TV series are missing out on a bunch of other interesting aspects of the tale. Because of the way the "Game of Thrones" books are told in chapters dedicated to select characters' perspectives, there are some scenes from the TV series that book readers would never see play out. Those awesome Littlefinger and Varys conversations in the Iron Throne room, and the scene where Robert Baratheon told Cersei he never loved her, and all those awful moments where Joffrey was with his crossbow are all unique to the TV show.

Ultimately "Game of Thrones" is a story that's bigger than the TV show, just like it's bigger than the novels. It's a world that's fun to be a part of while the story is still unfinished, and one that's going to be discussed and analyzed long after it concludes. Do yourself a favor and read the books so you can join the conversation. Once you're in the know, you'll also be among the many who record your unsuspecting friends' reactions when the next Red Wedding-sized event takes place on the show.

"Game of Thrones" Season 4 returns in spring 2014 on HBO.

Photo/Video credit: Getty Images